United Kingdom

British Internet Filters Called Ineffective, Intrusive

The stuff they're supposed to block is already underground


David Cameron, the British Prime Minister, could have buried almost any bad news on the same day as a royal birth. Instead, the main grievous news he had to offer — his plan for pervasive censorship of the British Internet — was entirely his own making. His speech has been critiqued for its grandstanding and for ignorance of how the Internet works, but the lasting damage of his new initiative will serve to extend the precedent that the UK government and private actors can interfere with Internet communications without regulation or legislative oversight, and to undermine the safety of the children it seeks to protect. …

These steps will do nothing to help the fight against abuse. Child abuse images are illegal to possess or distribute by anyone in the UK — including, as the Open Rights Group has pointed out, anyone who accidentally accessed such images as part of that child safety hackathon. As a consequence, search engines and ISPs alike already take extraordinary steps to identify and eliminate such content. As with any system of Internet blocking, this means that almost all such distribution evades these routes, and occurs instead out of the sight of search engines or censorship.